Card Stock Flying Dragon Paper Airplane

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Introduction: Card Stock Flying Dragon Paper Airplane

About: Airplane enthusiast and dream aviator.

This little hand-launched dragon is great for indoors or a small park. It takes between 50 and 90 minutes to make. Some prior experience with paper crafting and gliders is recommended. It is small and light, so even small mistakes may result in poor flight. At its best, the dragon should fly gracefully for 30 to 40 feet.

Supplies

-Two sheets of card stock (8.5" x 11", preferably 65 lb.)

-Small piece of chipboard, approx. 4" x 1.5"

-Large paper clip (preferably vinyl coated)

-Glue stick

-Scissors

-Ruler

Step 1: Download and Print

Print or photocopy the plans onto card stock.

The documents are 7.5" x 10". Print at 100% scale.

I've included alternate plans that have no title, text, etc., for those that want to convert to a vector file.

Step 2: Cut Out the Pieces

Cut out all the pieces. Trace piece H onto chipboard and cut that out. If you used a piece of chipboard from packaging, lightly scrape or sand the glossy side of H to help the glue bond.

Step 3: Body, Wings, and Tail

Make creases at what will be the center line of the dragon, thereby defining the wings and tail stems from the body. Glue the strengthening pieces (chipboard and card stock) onto one half of the body. Apply more glue and complete the body with the second piece. Try to get them well aligned, and make sure the whole surface of both are bonded together. Glue the nose pieces to the sides of the head. Crease the v-tail on the center and to define the ruddervators. Apply glue to the tail stems and attach the tail.

Step 4: Brace the Wings

Crease the strengthening piece that goes on top of the wing. Glue it on. As the glue is drying, try to keep the wingtips about 15 degrees above level. Crease the braces that go under the wing and glue them in place.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Give the wings a slight undercamber by repeatedly pinching along the leading and trailing edges.

Check the dragon from all angles. Make sure there are no twists or warps. For example, when looking at it from the front, the wings should have identical silhouettes (or as near to identical as possible). Check the dragon from all sides, and make corrections as needed. It's a small and light craft, so minor imperfections will affect the flight significantly.

Always be gentle when correcting twists and warps. Repetition may be necessary, as the card stock will tend to return to its original position or shape.

Attach the paper clip.

Step 6: Flights and Adjustments

Conduct some test flights indoors. The ruddervators should be raised a couple of degrees. Throw the plane straight and level, with little force. Repeat, and throw as consistently as possible.

You can use the paper clip to influence the pitch (nose up or nose down) by sliding it forward or back a couple of millimeters. Make a little pencil mark on the side of the neck, once you've found a good position for it, so you can quickly position it after a crash. Of course, the ruddervators also influence pitch. If the dragon is nosing into the ground immediately after release, the ruddervators need to be raised. It's also possibly that the declination is off a little, in which case each stabilizer, as a whole, needs to be twisted forward.

You can use the little rudder (on the bottom fin) to influence the plane's yaw, but a tendency to turn left or right is likely due to a slight curve of the body. Check the body often to make sure it is as straight as possible

Have fun!!

CAUTION! Plane may cause eye injury. Be careful when throwing it. If other people are around, allow a safe distance.

4 People Made This Project!

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24 Comments

0
hugginsd
hugginsd

Question 4 months ago on Step 6

Hello. I am having all my high school students make these as an intro to our aeronautics unit. Sadly, we are not having much luck at all getting these to fly. The pattern template has a section marked J, but I cannot find what those pieces are called nor where to place them on the dragon. Please advise. Thank you.

0
zdedesigns
zdedesigns

Reply 4 months ago

Thanks for giving them a try. I believe making things with our hands is an important part of human culture and learning, and I'm glad to hear you're promoting that with your students! ... This is a challenging design; there are others on my page that are better for beginners. Sorry about that. The most likely cause of the poor performance is asymmetry of the wings, such as a subtle twist. It's important to sight down the nose and check to see that the silhouettes of the left and right wings are identical (which is difficult to do when the wings have such an odd shape). A second likely cause is throwing the dragon too hard and/or at an upward angle. ... Let me know how the dragons are failing, and I'll make some more informed suggestions. ... The J pieces are in a rectangle on the second document, and are mentioned at the end of the instructions (seljuk_plans_2.pdf). They are for repair / reinforcement.

1
crafterscornerkingwood

Cannot wait to try for my grandsons. Can you please post the files.in svg file format for cutting machines?

0
zdedesigns
zdedesigns

Reply 9 months ago

I will upload PDFs that are just the outlines, so it's easier to convert them. It may take this site a couple days to update, though.

0
zdedesigns
zdedesigns

Reply 9 months ago

Glad you like it! ... I've checked my apps and can't export SVG files. Would JPG, HEIC, or some other format help? Also, if you do a search for "convert PDF to SVG" some free site pop up, and hopefully at least one is reputable. : )

0
seawolf7071
seawolf7071

9 months ago

Not real sure about making it fly, BUT, a fantastic idea for a Dragon Mobile. Looking forward to trying this out !!!

0
zdedesigns
zdedesigns

Reply 9 months ago

As a mobile is a great idea!! You could make the dragons quickly by skipping some of the strengthening pieces. ... It is finicky in the air, but there are some good flights in the video, I think.

0
seawolf7071
seawolf7071

Reply 9 months ago

I figured you would like the idea. Would love to see what you do with it. Good luck !!!

0
donholtz
donholtz

9 months ago

Thank you! Going to try this today.
What is another name for chipboard?

1
zdedesigns
zdedesigns

Reply 9 months ago

Glad you like the design. ... Chipboard is sometimes called cardboard, but since that brings to mind the corrugated cardboard of pizza boxes and such, I avoid the term. You can also find it sold under the name kraft board. I often scavenge chipboard from pasta boxes.

0
donholtz
donholtz

Reply 9 months ago

Kraft board, found it!
Thank you

1
jfincher42
jfincher42

Reply 9 months ago

It's the cardboard packaging material that cereal boxes are made from.

0
fred_dot_u
fred_dot_u

Reply 9 months ago

I have a ton of Cheerios boxes collected for other laser projects. Would the plane be too heavy if the entire structure was built from this material? It's about 0.0277" / 0.7036 mm thick. I've converted the PDFs to vector form for zip-zip easy cutting.

0
zdedesigns
zdedesigns

Reply 9 months ago

Awesome! I save a lot of cracker and pasta boxes for all these planes. ... Yes, too heavy. Well, you could ditch the center pieces that strengthen the body, since you're already using heavier material, and save some weight that way. You could then manipulate the file and increase the wing size by a third, and it might fly.

0
donholtz
donholtz

Reply 9 months ago

Thank you

0
crafterscornerkingwood
crafterscornerkingwood

Reply 9 months ago

Buy at craft stores. also sometimes referred to as Particle Board or Low Density Fibreboard – is made by mixing small wood particles with epoxy resin, which are pressed together under intense heat and pressure to produce a rigid board, typically with a smooth surface.

0
donholtz
donholtz

Reply 9 months ago

Thank you for you reply. I know what Particle board is, but now confused. Particle board I'm used to is very heavy for it's size. Hobby lobby had no clue what I was talking about. I will just find something around the house and try making this.

0
OculumForamen
OculumForamen

9 months ago

I'm seriously going to make this! I love Paper Airplanes, I love working with Paper and I fold Origami as a hobby, I like to make these for my children and their children when it happens. Having a dragon as a paper Airplane would be a fun thing to make that still flies, but looks more organic than just a regular plane. Thank you so much for posting this instructable! I greatly appreciate these kind of instructables, as they increase my repertoire of paper objects I can make!!!! Keep on Folding!

0
zdedesigns
zdedesigns

Reply 9 months ago

Excellent! You've found the best reasons for making this design! Hope the grandkids like it. Your experience will come in handy: symmetry is quite important to achieving graceful flights of small, skittish planes.